PRESS-RELEASE: UNHCR concerned about gaps in Draft Law aimed at harmonization of legislation on protection of refugees

   

The UNHCR Regional Representation welcomes registration of the Draft Law on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Refugees and Persons in Need of Complementary or Temporary Protection in the Parliament on 3 May 2012.

The Draft Law aims to harmonize the national legislation on refugees and persons in need of complementary or temporary protection with the standards in the field of socio-economic rights according to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees ratified by Ukraine in 2002 and the relevant EU standards specified in the requirements of the National Plan to implement Action Plan on liberalization of EU visa regime for Ukraine.

Back in October 2011, UNHCR submitted proposals for the harmonization of 39 laws of Ukraine with the Law of Ukraine on Refugees and Persons in Need of Complementary or Temporary Protection contributing to bringing provisions of the Draft Law in accordance with the international standards. Although the executive authorities attempted during the numerous coordination meetings to bring the Draft Law regulations into conformity with the international obligations of Ukraine as per 1951 Convention, UNHCR is disappointed to note that the final version registered in the Parliament does not meet even the basic standards of refugee protection.

The most significant gaps of the Draft Law, which partially harmonizes only 25 laws of Ukraine, leave asylum seekers deprived of the right (in 16 of those laws!) even for basic and emergency medical assistance and temporary accommodation in residential facilities from the related accommodation assets during the refugee status determination procedure. They are not covered by the legislation on employment; neither can they be registered as unemployed. In case of absence of national passports, asylum seekers will not be able to register birth, marriage and other civil acts; they will not be able to receive the tax identification code. Persons who have been granted complementary protection and their family members are not eligible to get permission for immigration after five years since they were granted complementary protection, which will significantly hamper their integration efforts.

Thus, asylum seekers are deprived not only of social support from the state and access to the labour market to become self-reliant, but also of the opportunity to receive humanitarian aid from international donors, as the charitable assistance provided by UNHCR through its partner organizations is subject to income tax. Moreover, charitable foundations have no right to provide financial assistance to individuals without tax codes.

In this regard, UNHCR remains concerned that the Law of Ukraine on Refugees and Persons in Need of Complementary or Temporary Protection still requires amendments to bring the system of the refugee rights? protection in conformity with the international standards.

UNHCR urges the Members of Parliament of Ukraine to protect refugee rights and improve standards of the Draft Law by introducing relevant amendments.

For further information please contact UNHCR Regional Representation for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, Public Information Unit. Tel.: +380 44 288-97-10. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Web-site: http://www.unhcr.org.ua.

Background information:
• The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established on December 14, 1950. It became operational on January 1, 1951. UNHCR?s contributions to the world peace have been recognized with Nobel Peace prizes in 1954 and 1981.
• UNHCR works in Ukraine since March 1994. From 1996 to 2011 UNHCR contributed over 36 million USD to Ukraine. UNHCR programmes have over the years enhanced the capacities of numerous Government agencies and non-governmental organization and provided life sustaining assistance to thousands of individuals (direct assistance in the form of food and non-food items, medical assistance or monthly subsistence allowance in 2011 amounted to 450,000 USD).
• UNHCR has since its inception provided training and material support in the form of equipment (computers, vehicles, refurbishment of premises) to numerous Government agencies (the State
• Committee for Nationalities and Religions, Regional Migration Services, Border Guards) to the tune of 2.5 million USD.
• As of January 1, 2012 there are app. 2,500 recognized refugees and 5,875 stateless persons in Ukraine.
• In 2011, the three countries? programmes (Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine) managed by the UNHCR Regional Representation in Kyiv amounted to 4.7 million USD ex-staffing.
• UNHCR provides protection to refugees and other displaced persons on a non-political and humanitarian basis. The objective is to seek permanent solutions for persons who depend on international protection which, in the event of impossibility of return to the country of origin, entails providing for a supportive environment to integrate locally.
• Globally there are 43 million forcibly displaced persons, the majority of whom receive some form of UNHCR assistance (15.2 million refugees, 27.1 million internally displaced, 983 thousand asylum seekers).
• There are as many as 12 million stateless persons around the globe and 6.6 million are known to UNHCR in some 60 countries worldwide.
• Over the past 60 years UNHCR has saved millions of lives, by bringing donor funds and international political will to bear on the world?s refugee problems on a scale unimaginable prior to its founding.
• In addition to saving lives, UNHCR continues to help millions of people to rebuild their lives, to return safely home or to find new homes.
• UNHCR notes that Ukraine accepted to abide by international refugee law 10 years ago by acceding to the 1951 Convention related to the status of refugees and that it has indicated readiness to accede to the 1954 and 1961Conventions on Statelessness.